Dontcha know? Two comics on one stage is worth the dough
November 7, 2009
The Stagebenders are an interesting blend of standup, improvisational sketch with a little bit of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” thrown in. When you toss in what ideas that the crowd want to see and hear you get some pretty off-the-wall skits.
Gust Alexander and Kim Thomassen, The Improv headliners through Sunday, Nov. 8, are two fun lovin’ guys who hail from Minnesota and have often been compared to that of a contemporary Abbott and Costello (more like two Costellos).
Jeff Burghart, who has a variety of impressions, opens the show.
Kim and Gust started out separately with theater arts and acting backgrounds. But they were junior high school buddies who liked to make each other laugh. They realized they were better off as a team than as solo acts and poof: The Stagebenders were launched. Over the years The ‘Benders have fashioned themselves into a nonstop, fast-paced hurricane of interactive comedy duo that has to be experienced to be believed. It’s safe to say that after some two decades of being together their act has been honed to perfection.
They’ve developed an almost cult like following that over the years has grown to include actress Geena Davis, the Kinks and Improv founder Budd Friedman.
Television and film appearances include “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” ABC’s “America’s Funniest People,” MTV’s “The Jenny McCarthy Show,” filmmaker Roger Nygard’s “Trekkies 2” and the Coen Brothers’ “The Naked Man.”
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They have been featured in national publications such as Esquire and, believe it or not, Mechanical Engineering. “The Stagebenders TV Show” hopefully gets picked up, but if not they have each other to fall back on. Wait. If one of them falls it could be a while to get them back up again! I say that with true affection because they’re just fun to be with both on and off stage.
When I bring them up on stage I usually refer to them as “700 pounds of Las Vegas showgirls rolled up into two, bald, fat chubby guys who are the funniest duo on the planet.”
I was doing two nights in Oregon last week with comedian Rocky LaPorte and thought I would drop by to see who was headlining there. It was Jeff Burghart. He was great, and to see him headline was even better because he did almost an hour’s worth of comedy. This man has been blessed (or cursed, depending which side of the conversation you’re on) with so many different voices that when you chat with him it’s difficult to know which person is speaking.
He is without a doubt one of the best voice impressionists working today. He will answer you in just about every voice except his own! He doesn’t have voices just in his head but actual characters that apparently need to come out frequently from time to time. Good thing that he is in the field of comedy or else they probably would have locked him up a long time ago. Often referred to as “The Texas Tornado,” Burghart has a treasure chest of characters with different impressions ready to come out.
Some of his many characters include not just the legends of showbiz but a weird twist on them that one would never expect. One of them is a dairy farm uncle and a Spanish Rodney Dangerfield. Now that is creepy but very funny nonetheless. Maybe it’s because of his spending too much time alone while living in the Lone Star State?
I’m not sure but he is so quick witted that there have been times I found myself laughing at something he said when he was already into his next bit. His versatility has made him a hot commodity and comic legend Jerry Lewis said, “Jeff is one of the craziest people I’ve ever seen in my whole life.”